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The Christmas Gift of Travel

I am submitting this story to E-hell as it’s one that I think will solicit an interesting mix of responses! Just before Christmas, my husband received the following note in his Christmas card from his Grandma. Now, Grandma is in her 80s, and has (as the letter says) 13 grandchildren, who range from older teens at University to married-with-kids in their late 30s. Grandma lives in the far south of the UK and her grandchildren and their families live in various parts of the UK from very nearby (in the same village) to a few hundred miles away. My husband and I fall into the latter category, but we still see his family a few times per year as time allows – usually at birthdays, Christmas, wedding and christenings, as well as the occasional family Sunday lunch etc. I know some of the grandchildren see her much more often, and some, who are away at University etc., see her less frequently.

I’m not entirely sure what I think of the letter and its contents, and my husband and my siblings-in-law and cousins-in-law have somewhat varying views about it from, “ahh, how kind and generous”,  to, “OMG! Gifts with Conditions are not Gifts at all!” I fall into a third category, of wondering why Grandma feels she has to ‘bribe’ her family into spending time with her (and, if I’m honest, worrying what kinds of unsuitable and overly-tiring activities some of the family will have Grandma doing, despite her being reasonably energetic for her age!)

So I thought it would be really interesting to see what some of the Ehellions thought of this one!

“Grandma’s Christmas Present for You!

This year, I wanted to do something really special with each of my 13 grandchildren (including partners and great-grandchildren if any yet) so here’s an idea that I hope we will all enjoy:

I have set aside £500 for each grandchild. But there’s a condition. To receive this I would like to spend some quality time with you! Quality time will be at least two days (and perhaps a night somewhere of your choice) for us to enjoy being together, sometime during the next year. Where we go or what we do (provided you don’t rush me about too much) will be organised by you but at my expense (up to the value of £500). Be as innovative as you like, but it must be a special time for us to share, creating happy memories and some photographs too.

Shall we go to a spa for the weekend to enjoy leisure facilities? What about a trip to the theatre or to have a mini holiday together? Even having a makeover and a photo shoot could be fun. Would you like to cook for me and invite me to stay with you in your own home for the weekend? How about escorting me to a special event somewhere? Relaxing in one another’s company with time to chat will be equally enjoyable. ‘Aunty Jane’ has lots of ideas if you want to discuss options with her.

The date will be of your choosing (subject to my availability) anytime between now and Christmas 2013. The quicker you are with your preferred date, the best choice you will have. It would be good to spread these quality time experiences throughout the year, if possible.

You don’t have to let me know in advance what you are proposing to arrange for us, although I will assume I don’t need any special equipment. Please don’t expect me to do kite-surfing, rock-climbing or bungee-jumping, but I’ll be quite happy watching you if that what you’d like to do during our time together.

If we don’t manage to spend all of the £500 during our weekend, I will let you have the difference in cash soon after. Also if you need cash upfront to make bookings etc. please liaise with ‘Aunty Jane’ so the experience you are planning will stay a secret from me until the day.

Look forward to hearing from you soon!”  1220-12

The small problem I see with this letter is that Grandma phrased it as a monetary gift with “conditions”.   What she is really giving is a shared experience, chosen at the discretion of the recipient, in which she pays all expenses up to £500.

She may be bribing her grandkids to spend time with her but all of us have mixed motives even in the most seemingly altruistic of actions.   I wouldn’t overly analyze her letter, the offer or her motives and simply take it at face value.    If you are feeling bribed, you can decline to accept the gift.

Grandma is also being as fair as she can by not singling out specific grandkids as being more  distant or closer than others and making a well thought out effort to keep the financial aspect of it very fair to everyone.  You could rejoice that this is a relatively drama-free offer.   Worrying about excursions that could tire Grandma are counterproductive since I assume Grandma knows her limits and Aunt Jane is there to provide better suggestions should one be deemed too wild and crazy for her mother.

My deceased father simply sent a check every Christmas whereas your husband’s grandmother is making an effort to get involved in her grandkids’ interests and lives and enjoy some new adventure with them.   If I were you, I’d think of some creative weekend trip that you all would enjoy…maybe to a special festival, or an unusual museum or aquarium, eat dinner at a nice pub and enjoy a night at a bed and breakfast inn.   And then send Grandma a thank you for the lovely gift of time.

{ 101 comments… add one }
  • Sharon January 3, 2013, 9:40 am

    I think her offer is lovely.

  • DGS January 3, 2013, 9:46 am

    This sounds incredibly sweet, actually. It sounds like Grandma is being generous and thoughtful in encouraging her grandchildren to create some truly special memories with her and engage in some activities that are very grandchildren-specific. I think a great big ‘thank you’ to Grandma is in order.

  • Merrilee January 3, 2013, 9:49 am

    I wouldn’t take this as a gift with conditions at all. I see an elderly lady who wants to spend more time with her family, who is perhaps lonely. And she wants to make sure she sees everyone in this next year. I think it’s a lovely gesture and people shouldn’t read much into the intent. I agree with Miss Jeanne. This post kind of made me sad because it reminds me of my mother in law who is now 86. She has started to put all her prized stuff in boxes to be distributed after she dies. (yes, I know this is a rather morbid thing for her to be doing). Maybe Grandma is making sure she gets to see everyone and has created some wonderful memories with her entire family in the process.

  • Stacey Frith-Smith January 3, 2013, 9:53 am

    Creative. Inclusive. Fun. Hurray for OP’s grandmother!

  • Huh January 3, 2013, 9:55 am

    It’s the phrasing that I find really weird and pushes me into the third category with the OP, wondering why grandma has to bribe her family to spend time with her and put such emphasis on requirements to it. Quality time must be at least two days? And really it sounds like an overnight weekend trip, since she mentions the night somewhere of your choice. Did Aunt Jane (who possibly is the primary caregiver of Grandma and wants an understandable break) write this? Frankly it doesn’t sound like a family member wanting to spend time with another family member writing this.

  • Lita January 3, 2013, 10:07 am

    On the one hand, I can see why this would come off as a bribe. But on the other, I’m going to have to agree this is an incredibly sweet gesture. It reminds me very much of my own late grandmother, and that’s not a bad thing at all! Kudos to Grandma.

  • Carol January 3, 2013, 10:15 am

    I think the sweetness of the gesture overrides the phrasing. It sounds to me like she is trying to say ‘I want to spend time with each of my grandchildren in a special and meaningful way, and I don’t want them to be burdened with any financial problems in doing it, so this is my plan’. I think that sort of thing is hard to explain, really.

    I agree that I hope the grandkids all take her age into consideration when planning the activity, and I hope they take her up on it, because some day she won’t be around, and they may regret not spending that time.

  • Princess Buttercup January 3, 2013, 10:25 am

    Sounds like Grandma realizes her time on this earth won’t last forever and wants to be sure her grandkids have great memories of her after she’s gone.
    It sounds great to me and very generous.
    I’d take her up on it and send a great big thank you card afterwards that mentions my favorite parts of the trip.

  • DaynaMarie January 3, 2013, 10:25 am

    I like the idea of a paid vacation with Grandma as a trip, but my real problem is with the grandchildren having to plan it. Those very busy with University and children may feel too busy to plan and book a trip, and I know people who just don’t enjoy planning these types of things. Also, the fact the Grandma wants the trip to be kept a secret from her makes it sound like more of a gift for her. It is a very lovely idea, but in my opinion it should have been done in a way that is less of an assignment for the grandchildren.

  • Sharon January 3, 2013, 10:30 am

    Weighing in again. I have a friend with a big family–she is one of 6, and she and all of her siblings have more than one child. Her mother took every one of her grandchildren on short trips of their choosing (within reason) when they reached 8th grade. I was blown away by her generosity and wished my son could have had such an experience with his grandmother. I suppose there could be ulterior motives but I would take it at face value–quality time with a woman who seems game for adventure and may not have that much time left. If OPs grandmother had decided to leave each grandchild the money in her will it would hardly have made a dent in their memories–but her request to spend time with them–at the activity of THEIR choice–priceless.

  • squashedfrog January 3, 2013, 10:30 am

    I also think this is really quite sweet. A similar thing was done by a friend of mine’s grand parent, who decided rather than leave money in his will and have it all drained by inheritance tax, took all his family, children, and grandchildren on an all expenses paid ‘holiday of a lifetime’ cruise on the QE2 before he died. I always remember seeing the photos and being in awe of such an amazing gift.

  • Lerah99 January 3, 2013, 10:32 am

    I think this is lovely. It is so sweet that Grandma wants to spend time with her family. And personally, I don’t see the gift as 500 pounds but rather a fun time with Grandma. She is offering her grandkids the gift of time and memories. She is just letting them know that she can only afford 500 pounds to make sure they understand what limits to set.

  • WildIrishRose January 3, 2013, 10:32 am

    I think it’s a lovely gesture on Grandma’s part. Clearly she wants to see her grandchildren and is proposing a way to do that, that won’t interfere with already-made plans. And she’s footing the bill! I think Admin’s suggestions for outings are wonderful. OP, I think you and your husband should accept Grandma’s offer and plan for an outing that you would all enjoy. Aside from Admin’s suggestions, what about a garden or arboretum? I wouldn’t suggest theater or movies, because I think one of the things you will certainly want to do is spend time talking with Grandma. Maybe make part of your outing an “interview” of Grandma, in which you record her telling her life’s story. That’s something you could share with all the other grandkids.

  • Ripple January 3, 2013, 10:36 am

    I think this is a great idea. My only thought would be to be sure everyone takes lots of photos. Then you will have a “remembrance” book for later. When my mother turned 80, I had everyone submit a recent photo which I then paired with a photo from many years before in a photo album. She enjoyed it greatly. I provided CD’s of all the photos to everyone else, so we can all enjoy it.

  • yokozbornak January 3, 2013, 10:41 am

    I think it’s a sweet and creative gesture. The OP doesn’t say anything negative about the grandmother or meantion that she is toxic and they want to avoid her so I am taking this at face value and assuming that she just wants to spend some time with her grandchildren and let them experience some fun things they might not get to do otherwise because of the expense.

  • Library Diva January 3, 2013, 10:43 am

    Clothing wears out, electronics become outdated, home decor items break, get used up or fall out of favor, and books get read and put away on the shelf. But lovely memories are forever. Most people don’t need more crap cluttering up their homes, and shopping for it all at the busiest time of the year is a trial for even the most intrepid, let alone an elderly woman. Though I do see some “you never visit” overtones in this letter, overall, I think it’s a wonderful idea. I hope all the grandchildren avail themselves of it and make some wonderful memories that will last them for the rest of their lives. The story of the gift is one they’ll tell forever.

  • Jay January 3, 2013, 10:44 am

    Phrasing is poor, but the idea is a good one. Not precisely a bribe.

  • Lapis Lazuli January 3, 2013, 10:45 am

    It seems like a lovely idea , *but* I wonder why she needs to basically bribe her grandkids to spend time with her and why it has all the conditions/requirements? I think @Huh (comment #5) is onto something.

    This seems like it is more for grandma than for the grandkids. A gift with conditions is not a gift.

  • Challis January 3, 2013, 10:51 am

    the “at least two days” throws me off a little; but that is, I assume, to ward off those who want to do a wham bamn lunch with granny and then take off with the cash.
    I think it is a great offer and those who disagree, as admin said, should decline the gift altogether.

  • Jays January 3, 2013, 10:51 am

    I think it sounds charming. (And in my head, immediately started coming up with things I’d love to do with my Grandma in a similar opportunity! Unfortunately, those days are past.)

    That is presuming (of course) that Grandma is not toxic in any way. (She doesn’t seem to be.) No one has to do it. They can simply decline.

  • Uncle Moe January 3, 2013, 11:10 am

    I’m confused as to why this is being overthought and feeling Grandma is overstepping the boundaries of etiquette. What a great gift! And what a generous grandmother you have. She’s basically telling everyone that she wants to spend time with them – doing what THEY want to do at HER expense, and best of all, showing no favoritism. She is, after all, in her 80s, and is perhaps thinking that time may be growing short. Who knows? From her offer, however, her energy does not seem to be waning. My kids’ grandmother (my mother) – since deceased – was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when my children were very young. Sadly, they never really had a grandmother nor got to know what a wonderful woman she was. I would definitely take your grandmother up on her offer and have a great time.

  • AE January 3, 2013, 11:12 am

    I think it’s pretty sweet. I don’t see it as truly bribing family members to spend time with her, more like spreading holiday family time throughout the year.
    I see a lot of elderly folks who are inundated with family members during the Christmas season and left virtually alone the rest of the year. I’m sure that she sees a fair number of nearby family members on a regular basis, but it is still nice to spend some extra time together without having to rush off in just an hour or two.
    Also, I think if their money and her health allows, perhaps the gift to give her next year is a special getaway together on their dime…provided this year’s outing proves to be enjoyable. “Hey Gramma, remember our spa day last year? Well, save the XX of March, we’re doing it again…my treat!”

  • Lauren January 3, 2013, 11:18 am

    I’m with the majority – I LOVE this idea!
    I think the LW might be feeling a little off about this because she may feel a bit ‘guilted’.
    I’d get over that and start planning some great weekend with Grammie (and maybe try to stay a bit closer in touch.)

  • AMC January 3, 2013, 11:24 am

    While I think Grandma phrased the letter poorly and it does come off a little “bribey”, I too hear a woman who is desperate to spend time with her grandkids. As Admin said, what Granny is really offering is the gift of an experience. I can’t help but think of my own grandmother who lives by herself several cities away from her kids and grandkids. She has all the material things she could need or want, so I’ve learned that the best gift I can give her her is time spent with family. If I were you, OP, I would graciously accept Granny’s offer and plan an outing immediately, then return the favor when Granny’s birthday rolls around.

  • Lou January 3, 2013, 11:31 am

    I think the first paragraph could have been phrased a little better, but I think the motive is clear, that it is a gift of time and enjoyment but without the expense.
    My partner bought me tickets for a weekend away last year for my birthday, he could have instead asked me to pick the location, activities etc and paid the bill, it would have been the same thing, but taken the work out for his part, which an elderly lady is entitled to surely?

    And huh – I suspect it must be overnight ensures that if you are doing a lot, or travelling far, it will not be too exhausting for an elderly lady to manage all in one day. Saying it must be overnight, suggests it is part of the treat rather than admitting to ones frailties.

  • L.J. January 3, 2013, 11:31 am

    It’s a sweet and creative offer. Perhaps there are some grandkids who would like to spend time with her, but don’t want to just show up with flowers and sit around making awkward conversation for a few hours. It’s such a flexible offer! One grandkid could bring her for a day at the beach while they (the grandkid) surfs, a student could bring her on a tour of campus and out for a nice lunch, a different grandkid could bring her and the great-grandkids to a petting zoo. So many options! The offer gives every relative a way to have a fun, memorable time with grandma.

  • Lisa January 3, 2013, 11:35 am

    What an awesome gift!!! I fail to see how anyone can misconstrue this as bad etiquette or bribery. She sounds like a lovely lady and if anyone of her grandchildren is too offended to take her up on her offer, I’d be happy to go in their place.

  • Vee January 3, 2013, 11:36 am

    I agree with Huh. We need to know more about Grandma’s motives for bribing people to visit before we reach any conclusions but I do wonder.

  • Kimstu January 3, 2013, 11:36 am

    Count me in among those who think that the basic idea is very nice but the details and the wording could have been managed a bit more gracefully.

    The truly gracious way to put this would be to leave out the “Christmas present for you” reference and propose it as an actual invitation. Not “I have set aside X amount of money for each of you and here’s the hoop you have to jump through in order to get it”, but rather “I would love to spend a couple of days with each of you in scheduled activities of your choice and I have budgeted X amount of money for it”.

    The “I will let you have the difference in cash” part is also a bit awkward. It’s reinforcing the unfortunate (and, I think, unintended) implication of paying your relatives for the pleasure of their company. Moreover, it offers a temptation to greediness by reminding the relatives that if they pick a cheaper form of “togetherness experience” to share with Grandma, they’ll walk away with more of Grandma’s cash. (And the more distantly located grandchildren may resent the fact that they’re forced to spend a higher proportion of the total sum on travel costs because the distance is greater.)

    Nope, if I were Grandma I’d just make the offer of funding a “togetherness experience” of the individual grandchild’s choosing, which is indeed a lovely idea, and leave out all mention or implication of a cash handout. Of course she could still spontaneously give them the leftover money at the end of the visit anyway if she wanted to, but it shouldn’t be explicitly part of the “deal”.

    Honestly, if any of your grandkids can’t be bothered to arrange a fun couple of days out of a whole year to spend with you at your expense in a shared activity of their choosing unless they also get a wad of cash out of the deal, you shouldn’t be wasting so much of your attention and generosity on them anyway.

  • Alexander January 3, 2013, 11:39 am

    I have to say, I’m somewhat shocked at how some of the grandchildren have the attitude of “a gift with conditions is not a gift at all!”; I do not know of many people in their 80’s who would have the means of giving away £6,500 just to be able to spend a couple of days with their grandchildren, and I would have thought most people wouldn’t consider spending 2 days out of the year with an elderly grandmother too much of a burden, let alone with when getting £500 in expenses for doing so.

    Although I agree it wasn’t phrased in the best way, making the “conditions” sound like more of an obligation than I’m sure it would be for most people, I would be inclined to look past it and instead seen an old lady who just wants to spend time with her family. Indeed I would be reticent about taking anywhere near that much money from her.

    I wonder if there will be any follow-up stories regarding any of the grandchildren organising cheap/inappropriate days out and then “bilking” her of the £500…

  • padua January 3, 2013, 11:52 am

    i think it sounds wonderful. it gives her the gift of getting to know her grandchildren on an individual basis. the wording may be slightly off, but the sentiment is lovely. i would take her up on this in a heartbeat.

  • White Lotus January 3, 2013, 11:54 am

    I like this. If finances are a concern for the grands, especially those with small houses/flats or at university, they can simply invite Grandmother to where they live, buy a good train ticket for her (I love trains) put her up in an inn or hotel, do a tour of the area, go out to dinner and brunch if need be, and stay within Grandmother’s budget. Fun for all. Some kind of weekend tour to a fun attraction/museum/play would also be fun if the grandchild has the budget. Grandmother wants to create experiences and memories for all, and that is good. Gift with conditions is frowned upon, but I see this as a gift for everyone, including Grandmother, and a generous one.

  • KJ January 3, 2013, 11:58 am

    Sounds to me like it is just poorly phrased but very sweetly intended.

  • clairedelune January 3, 2013, 11:59 am

    Hm, it’s an interesting idea. I suppose that the problem, inasmuch as there is one, is with presentation–presenting this as a sort of fait accompli, and also as a gift from her to you, when really it’s a proposal for a mutual gift to each other. To expand a bit on the latter point–I think we’ve come to a point in our society (I live in the U.S. but evidently this is the case in the UK, too) where we consider a gift to begin and end with money spent. I think of a gift involving not just money, but also effort (the effort involved in selecting a gift) and time (at least the time involved in procuring the gift). In the case of Grandma’s gift, she has supplied the money, but expects you to supply the effort (dreaming up and organizing the excursion) and both of you to supply the time. So it’s not as simple as just a gift from her; you’re both giving a gift, in a way. However, though this may be a bit nervy coming from someone else, I think grandmas–especially grandmas whose motive is simply to spend more time with their families–should get some leeway. 🙂

  • gramma dishes January 3, 2013, 12:04 pm

    It seems to me that she wants this opportunity to actually spend some quality time with each of her grandchildren individually instead of at one big gargantuan family gathering where she doesn’t really get the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with anyone. It would also give her the chance to meet her in-law grandchildren (and great grandchildren) on a more personal basis.

    If she can actually afford this, I think it’s wonderful. I don’t see it as strings attached at all. The recipients can go where they like and do what they like as long as they include her in at least some of their activities. No one is obligated to “accept” the gift if they aren’t willing to spend a little personal time with her.

    Personally, I’d be thrilled and excited at the prospect of this kind of arrangement. Sadly I barely knew my Grandparents at all, even though we visited often. There were always other aunts and uncles there who monopolized my Grandparents’ time and conversation. We never had personal time alone with them. To me this sounds wonderful!

  • Yvaine January 3, 2013, 12:05 pm

    I agree with Huh, there’s something weird in the phrasing that I can’t quite put my finger on. It comes off as cloying and I wonder if she’s really passive-aggressive in person or if it’s just a tone-lost-on-the-internet thing.

  • Hanna January 3, 2013, 12:08 pm

    I can foresee my mother-in-law doing this with her (future) grandchildren. It’s not a horrible idea, but it’s kind of annoying. Anytime anyone determines what kind of gift is acceptable to give, is annoying. Whether it’s a baby shower invite telling you to bring a child’s book instead of a card, or a family member basically demanding you not to give them a gift this year for Christmas because they can’t afford to give gifts in return, or someone telling you, “Instead of gifts this year for Christmas, I want x, y and z.” It’s all very annoying.

    It makes me wonder if grandma is someone people don’t enjoy being around if she has to bribe her grandchildren for her time??

  • Nikki January 3, 2013, 12:15 pm

    Although I find the phrasing a bit weird, I’m not sure what a “better” way to write a letter like this would be. I give Grandma a pass on etiquette, since it’s not really a “conditional” gift of money, but rather a straight gift of quality time with Grandma that simply cannot cost any more than a certain, pre-determined amount.

    Also, I don’t think Grandma is “bribing” anyone. It sounds to me like Grandma thinks all of her grandchildren not be financially sound to host her, and she is trying to even the playing field a bit without showing favoritism. I bet Grandma believes in fair play, and good on her for it.

  • EanieBeanie January 3, 2013, 12:17 pm

    I agree that the wording is a little strange, but I would cut her some slack. I no longer have grandparents to enjoy and when I read this I imagined having this opportunity with any of them and it made me smile. What a wonderful year this grandmother will have if even half of her grandchildren take her up on her offer. I hope she saved some money for a camera and an album of these memories.

  • Robert January 3, 2013, 12:20 pm

    IDK. I like it.

    OT but my parents live over 1000 miles away from me. I had them stay with me the summer before last for a month and thoroughly enjoyed the visit. The following Christmas (2011) they sent me their customary check with card but the check was for ten times more than the usual amount.

    I think it was their way of paying us back for the month they stayed with us. In any case, whatever reason they gave us so much, my wife and I used the money from the check to go and visit them last summer.

  • Kate January 3, 2013, 12:23 pm

    I don’t think this sounds like bribery at all! I am surprised that anyone does. To me it sounds like Grandma wants some one on one time with each of her grandkids, even or maybe especially far away, and not at a mass gathering like Christmas or a wedding, as OP mentions those are usually the times the family gets together. And she probably doesn’t want to exclude her grandchildren who live near her, and make them feel like they aren’t important because she sees them all the time, so she included all the grandkids. And she probably didn’t want to just demand they come see her individually, she understands travel expenses, so she gave them the “gift” of money, so the real gift, special individual time with her, would be a costly burden they would have to pay for. The real gift is the time with grandma, the money is just so that the grandkids can travel to see her, and can share something they like to do with grandma, instead of having her pick their activities. This sounds like a wonderful gift to me, and very well thought out as well!

  • Laura January 3, 2013, 12:25 pm

    My impression is that Grandma is lonely and wants to spend time with her family. Yes, it’s gift giving with strings attached, but honestly I would be willing to overlook that detail and just go along with it. She sounds very excited at the prospect of all the different ideas people could come up with. Enjoy her while you have her, she sounds like a fun lady.

  • michelle January 3, 2013, 12:41 pm

    Grandma sounds like a wonderful person, and I think her note is beautiful. I really don’t see her “condition” as being a condition in the negative sense of the word. My reading of it is, her “condition” is that there be fun involved! Also, I don’t see this as a note from someone who is lonely or feeling neglected. I see it as a note from an elderly person who’s – let’s face it – “getting up there”, and wants to share a very special memory with each of her very special grandchildren.

    I think she sounds like a fantastic lady. You’re lucky to have her!!

  • AmyBeth January 3, 2013, 1:10 pm

    I am an avid reader of this blog, but this is the first time I’ve been moved to comment. My 85 year old grandmother passed away suddenly last April. She had been to my house for our traditional Easter celebration and seemed a bit tired, but otherwise her usual self. She had a stroke the next day, and died a few weeks later without ever recovering the ability to speak. I wouldn’t give up last Easter for anything. Enjoy the time with your husband’s grandmother, even if she didn’t phrase the request eloquently. You just don’t know which memories will be your last.

  • Susan January 3, 2013, 1:11 pm

    My grandmother passed away this past spring. I wouldn’t worry too much about the motives. Please just encourage your family to jump at the chance to spend as much time as possible with her.

  • Cat January 3, 2013, 1:24 pm

    Yes, it’s a bit odd that, if Granny is not being ignored by her family, she feels it is necessary to offer them money for happy quality time.
    My own grandmother spent money on me and then would say, “I bought you this, so you have to do this.” I had to remind her that the only women whose time can be purchased are called escorts-or something worse.
    All I could think of now that I am reaching my dotage, is that she felt unloved and unworthy of being loved, so she acted as if I was for sale. Once she paid what she determined to be my “price”, she owned me.
    I would invited Granny for a visit and then tell her to send the money to a charity for orphaned children who have no one who wants to spend quality time with them. Love never has a price tag.

  • Lynne January 3, 2013, 1:28 pm

    I think this is fabulous!

    @Huh– I think it entirely sounds like something the giver of the gift would have written. In fact, I’m 28 and childless, but it sounds like something I might have written if I were in Grandmother’s position. It certainly doesn’t remotely sound like a caregiver needing a break.

    Technicially the gift is offerred with a “catch” but presumably the grandmother thought that it would be one that was desired and well-received, not that her grandchildren would feel unfairly restricted by the condition.

    I think her generosity is evident when she states that the 500 could go toward kite-surfing, and that she would be happy to watch. She wants time with her family, and is willing to treat for anything special they’d like to do with her — she’s keeping it fun for herself by suggesting that they make it a surprise.

  • Melissa K January 3, 2013, 1:31 pm

    I don’t like the idea of being “bought,” nor am I a fan of having money brought into the conversation. Grandma shouldn’t have to bribe her grandchildren into spending time with her. I would decline the money offer and instead offer to spend time with her on my own dime. If there was a reason I couldn’t or didn’t want to spend time with her, I would simply decline.

  • Onlyme January 3, 2013, 1:35 pm

    I’m with OP in the 3rd category. What I have a challenge with is the “If we don’t manage to spend all of the £500 during our weekend, I will let you have the difference in cash soon after”. So if they spend the two days just hanging out with Grandma and say go for ice cream, then I can get £500.

    I spend time with my nieces and newphews to create memories, and its usually at my expense. But I only ask for the experience, I don’t pay them for anything.

  • Melissa K January 3, 2013, 1:35 pm

    Actually, I will amend my previous comment. If I thought that spending the money was something that would truly make her happy, I’d probably accept and try to choose an activity that she would enjoy as well. That might be the most diplomatic course of action.

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